Currently, I am the head of the human biology and primate cognition group at the Faculty of Life Sciences, Institute of Biology at Leipzig University. I am responsible for the biology training of the students of human medicine and dentistry. I am spokesperson of the recently established "Leipzig Lab" at Leipzig University, where I also lead the project "Children and Nature".
My research focuses on the communicative, emotional and social-cognitive abilities of non-human primates and human children from different cultural contexts. I investigate how these skills develop in the first years of life and how the developmental trajectories vary between and within humans and apes.
- since 06/2020
Head of the group Human Biology and Primate Cognition, Faculty of Life Sciences, Institute of Biology, University of Leipzig
- 04/2015 - 05/2020
Professor of Comparative Developmental Psychology, Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin
- 04/2009 - 03/2015
Assistant Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, Excellence Cluster "Languages of Emotion", Freie Universität Berlin
- 04/2005 - 08/2008
Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK
- 07/2001 - 02/2005
PhD Student, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig; Department of Comparative and Developmental Psychology
- 10/1995 - 05/2001
Biology (Diploma), University Leipzig
My research interests center on the cognitive and communicative skills that might be uniquely human and those shared with other primate species, and the developmental trajectories of these skills. I use a cross-species, cross-cultural approach and combine observational and non-invasive experimental methods to study the gestural and facial communication, emotion expression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in human children from different cultural contexts and several species of nonhuman great apes.
My current research focus is the project Children and Nature, which I lead together with Prof. Daniel Haun, director of the Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Within this interdisciplinary, international cooperation between scientists, local research assistants and public institutions, we investigate how animal-directed attitudes of children develop in different societies and how these attitudes may vary depending on age, socio-cultural context, and the role of a given species within a society.
Biology for medical and dentistry students